by Amanda Billie Guerrero.
My morning is defined by a list of daily rituals that consists of: thanking Lucifer with a sacrificial lamb and a satanic hymn, making my favorite breakfast (scrambled baby). I wake my kids violently, throw them out of my car on the way to my liberal college, all the while cursing the heavens with my hatred for God.
I’m perpetually angry at the world, and all of the terrible stuff that’s happened to me, which is why I gave the idea of God up in the first place. I choose to believe that God doesn’t exist but more than likely will change my mind when on my death bed.
Until then, I will try to eradicate religion along with my fellow like-minded thinkers: Atheists.
My mornings are just as mundane as everyone else’s.
I shower, I wake my kids up with an “It’s time for school, let’s get dressed,” I drop them off with an “I love you” and “Do something nice for someone today,” I go to college, and run a club known as the Club of Secular Understanding, where we discuss social, political, and ethical issues.
And for the atheists in the club we hold an “Ask an Atheist” booth in the quad in attempt to break the negative stereotypes atheists/agnostics receive like represented in the opening above.
We have received both negative and positive feedback at these booths. Students and visitors drawn to the bright neon yellow sign that says: “Ask an Atheist!” and on the bottom “Free Hugs.” We have been asked “Why are you guys even here,” been scoffed at by bystanders, bad mouthed by our own college faculty, and have had pictures taken of us with remarks of being “disgusting.” All because of the very fact that we are atheists. The very word makes people uncomfortable. I know of atheists who have chosen to be called agnostic to lighten the blow. I know atheists who are too afraid to “come out” to loved ones in fear of being shunned, and atheists who have been disowned because they were “outed” either by themselves or others.
On my van I have bumper stickers that express my passion for the separation of church and state (secularism), my love for evolution (anthropology major), and one that simply says “atheist.” My van has been vandalized (no pun intended), with gum stuck on the door handles and windows, liquid substances thrown at it,“You’re an Asshole” written in the dust of my window. My taillight has been broken, and I have been flipped off on numerous occasions while driving (I assure you it is not because of my horrible driving).
I’ll tell you.
There is popular misconception that atheists:
Are Devil worshippers.
Are mad at God
And want to eradicate religion.
Honestly, it’s understandable that people become defensive about the term. It challenges valuable, sacred belief systems. I mean, imagine being told something your entire life to be, without question, the ultimate truth only to be told it’s a lie by someone else? It’s psychologically uncomfortable. I am basically threatening someone’s psychological well-being! In psychology it’s called “cognitive dissonance.”
So bear with me here while I hope to break the stigmas. I have concocted a short explanation for each of these popular misunderstandings. Regardless of what you might have heard, we are not Satan worshipping baby eaters. In fact, most of the atheists I know can identify with humanist philosophies which express an ethic of kindness.
Atheism is the absence of belief in God(s). It’s that simple.
Why don’t atheists believe in God? Well, there is no one path to atheism. Generally speaking, usually it is due to the lack of evidence, or philosophical/scientific contradictions.
Atheism does not require faith. Just like you don’t need any faith to disbelieve in elves or unicorns, you don’t need any faith to disbelieve in god(s).
Atheism is not incompatible with morality. Really all you need is empathy—which is the capacity to understand and connect with another sentient being. There is nothing about ethics which requires believing in god, and atheists have no more trouble behaving morally than theists do.
Atheists are not mad at God. How could you be mad at something you don’t believe exists in the first place?
And lastly, atheists do not want to eradicate religion. We do not want to impose beliefs, and we don’t want to impact anyone’s life in any undesirable way. All I ask is that religion uphold the same standard.
It is my aim that one day atheists will no longer have to face discrimination, and that they will come out of the closet, to help people realize that after the definition that unites us, we are free to partake of any other ideologies we choose. Whether that’s politics, conspiracies, or aliens—because like everyone else—we are human.